Cleaning a House with a Long Haired Cat

I have a question about housecleaning. I have a small housecleaning business and I have a question about a particular house. This house is a large, two-story home owned by a retired lady in her late 70's. She and her long haired white calico cat are the only ones living there.

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The house has become a terrible problem to clean because of the cat! She got the cat as a kitten a little over a year ago and since then it has been hair, hair, hair! She won't hear of me coming to clean more than every 3 weeks. I charge her $40 just to do the main level of the house. When I do the second story, which is not very often at all, I charge an extra $25.

There is so much cat hair that I have to change dusting rags 3 or 4 times just working downstairs! I know I'm not getting all of it. You never do with a pet like that. Also, today when I got there, she said that when she had her furnace serviced for the winter recently, the furnace man had a fit about how dirty her furnace filter was and I got the blame for that because apparently I'm not keeping things clean enough. UGH!
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How would some of you handle this? This woman has lots of odds and ends that always have to be moved. The main level is much more work that the upper, that is until the cat came to live in the house. The cat gets the run of the house and the upstairs I noticed today is covered in white cat hair. She didn't want the upstairs cleaned today so it will really be a mess by the time she wants it done again. I hope this isn't too rambling, but I could really use some suggestions as I am getting very frustrated! Thanks ahead of time for any feedback!

Robin from Washington, Ia

October 6, 20070 found this helpful

I used a vacuum to suck up all the cat hair then dusted. It was horrible, but the furnace filters is a whole other story. To me that would fall under "Home Maintenance" which is out of the house keeping dept. and thats what I would tell her. If she has no one who regularly maintains her home maybe she could place a add in the paper or have the furnace guy stop in and do it.

Elderly people can be difficult to help understand things. But I would politely make my point, and stick to it. In all my yrs of House Cleaning (over 28) I have never cleaned

furnace filters. Once you go out of your bounds they expect

more and more of you. But in the end they respect you for it. Just be yourself. You will be happier for it and not dread going to work. I love what I do. Good luck.

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October 6, 20070 found this helpful

That pet hair comes off the cat from the day you leave until 3 weeks later when you return, in the mean time its flying through the air and being picked up by the filter. The fact that you leave the house clean and come back dirty is not your falt. If she does not want the filter to do the vacuumming during the 3 weeks your away then she should hire you more often. It sounds like you may need to re-negotiate your price, if its taking you longer then when you first got the contract, though this still will not keep the house cleaner while your gone but it will compensate you for the additional work/time or explain to her the need for you to come more often (strain on the air circulation system, health risks etc.) which will help both of you and lessen the problem.

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October 7, 20070 found this helpful

I have 4 dogs and a cat and lots of hair every day. I dust and vacuum every day. I use a little cordless hand vac a whole lot besides a regular vac. I keep the hand vac near in case of a hairball. I think you might want to get one of those little hand vacs. I got mine at Big Lots for $10. It's great and I wish I had bought more than one. I also spray a light coat of endust on my dustmop and even my broom before I use it. That help also. If you spray more than a light spray, you'll have a worse mess. She needs you more than every 3 weeks, and maybe you should think of charging her more. She should change her own filter or get a maintenance person. Hope this helps. Geez!

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October 7, 20070 found this helpful

I too have cleaned people's homes and the changing of filter was never requested of me. Pet hair in abundance; all you can do at this point is find cleaning agents/supplies that make the task easier on you and addressing the issue of good health as it will affect you in time. I might suggest that you speak about raising your fees because of the time involved in cleaning after her cat or request that she please confine her pet to fewer rooms in the house or find someone elses place to clean instead of hers.

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October 7, 20070 found this helpful

I agree with all of you and I love what you do I'm also a house cleaner. Ariela is right just be yourself and be polite.

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October 8, 20070 found this helpful

Hi,

Can you gently tell your client to brush her cat at least once a day? Brushing her cat will eliminate most of the hair. Maybe she can sit and have a cup of coffee/tea with her cat on her lap and brush away? I know this helps in my house, I have 3 cats and a welsh corgi and they shed like crazy. Good luck

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October 8, 20070 found this helpful

I have 3 cats, one long-haired, and I know firsthand how much hair they shed! I agree with what everyone else has said about raising your fees and talking to her about the problem. You might mention to her that if she brushes her cat with a good pet brush daily, it could help with some of the cat hair.

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October 8, 20070 found this helpful

I'm not sure how you can be expected to keep cat hair out of a furnace filter when you only come every three weeks. If I were you, I'd fire that customer!

P.S.: I'm paying $130 to have part of my single story house cleaned every 2 weeks, and they make *no effort whatsoever* to remove the cat hair from my slipcovers. Let me know if you move to Dallas anytime soon!!

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October 8, 20070 found this helpful

How important is this client?

Speak nicely to her and explain about the mess. List the points of your discussion and let her keep the list. Tell her about options (confining the cat won't work) like more $ or find another housekeeper and then have her call you if she wants you back. Tell her that you like her house, furniture...but this is costing you more than it's worth. Then walk out the door.

Chances are she can't afford to pay more, so you do it for charity or you don't do it at all.

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October 8, 20070 found this helpful

PS Save the cat-haired rags to show her - her vision may be not seeing what is really there, so give proof.

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October 8, 20070 found this helpful

One of my friends cleans houses and charges $20.00 / hour. If the customer wants more, she pays more. Make a list of all the standard duties she requires every 3 weeks, and make a list of the "special" jobs that she might want to hire you (for additional time and $) to do. You are certainly reasonable for such a large house! Do you want to move to Houston?

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October 8, 20070 found this helpful

Dear Robin, Having had cats all my life, I can assure you that no dustrag will remove cat hair. My daughter at one time had 14 (they had a cat door, so no litter box was necessary) and I can tell you that one longhaired cat was equal to the all the others in shedding!

To remove hair from fabric, try old-fashioned rubber gloves. Also, Eureka makes a vacuum attachment called "Power Paw" which works miraculously. However, nothing you can use only every three weeks will be any good. That cat is shedding 24/7. Perhaps you can convince your client to use a cat comb instead. It will remove more hair than a brush, but the cat may not tolerate it. You certainly are not responsible for the air filter and the furnace service man was way out of line to imply you were. Speak gently to your client and let her know that all that hair builds up too quickly to be cleaned only every three weeks and that you are concerned that it also puts her health at risk (which it does). Good luck.

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October 8, 20070 found this helpful

I too clean houses for a living in central NJ. I charge $20/hr. (with a $60 minimum) The more they want you to do, the more they pay.. As for the cat hair, I have a 16 yr old calico. The only way to keep it at bay is to vacuum.. anything else you use will just push it around..period. The swiffers, brooms, and dustrags are useless. I usually get the cobwebs from the ceiling first, vacuum the cat hair off all the furniture including tables & chairs, then pledge any wood, windex any glass, then vacuum the carpets. If there are wood floors, then vacuum first before you mop. Its a must! Even though my cat is older, I have recently gotten her used to being vacuumed with the brush attatchment! She actually likes it now.

I agree with the other person who said if you start doing "extras" for people without charging "extra" they will just expect it and before you know it you will not be making what you are worth. So I charge $20/hr and they can tell me to clean whatever they want, they are paying for it!

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October 8, 20070 found this helpful

You could try a dry cellulose sponge or the "pet hair remover" rubber bristle brush found in cleaning section of stores (I saw two at Walmart). Use short, quick strokes and clean off the brush/sponge often. Hope this helps. :)

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October 9, 20070 found this helpful

I have a long haired cat, part Maine Coon, and the hair is terrible. I have to vake and dust every single day. It was so bad I take her every three months to get a nice short shave so she ends up looking like a regular cat. I also now brush her daily. Wouldn't it be nice if you could throw the idea to your client!

Everyone that has commented made very good remarks and opinions. I think you are working way too hard for that $40!!! And they are all right, the client always wants much more for that money and it gets worse over time. Especially the older clients....like my grandmother!!!

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October 9, 20070 found this helpful

It is a good idea to have one client that you serve for the sake of charity, and you charge nothing at all, a free gift. Good idea why? because you are so blessed to have the other clients. This lady should either be your charity client, or you let someone else do her house. IMHO. Good luck. I boarded my sister's cat for a year, and my house finally got back to normal two years later. The furnace filter filled with hair for two months after the cat was gone. I still found cat hair when I moved furniture now and then. Between the cushions of the couch was stuffed with it, the windows didn't slide right because of it. Never would I own such a cat. Good luck.

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October 9, 20070 found this helpful

There are many kind things you can do for a client (and I do). I do one free cleaning a yr, but not per client. But I do extra things... or stay longer. I, and not many people can afford to have a free client. But my people (I call them friends cause thats how we treat each other) are very good to me, as in bonuses, gifts. Through the yrs they have almost furnished my home and I pass on a lot they give me. I believe in Karma. I love my people.. they treat me like family.

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October 9, 20070 found this helpful

First of all, thanks for all the great recipes. I've tried many, many of them.

Our vet has a wonderful comb/brush that is initially pretty costly... about $30. BUT the thing takes off hair from the pet like you wouldn't believe. Bushels of hair from one animal, and they still look beautiful. I don't know how much time you can afford to "give" this lady, but 10 minutes of brushing will help a lot with the hair.

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October 9, 20070 found this helpful

Hey, Robin

We have two cats and a dog and I am up to my eyeballs in fur sometimes. I bought a rubber "brush" at Walmart that collects all the fur into a ball which makes it easier to pick up. It really helps on stairs and upholstered surfaces. I also often use the wand attachment on my vacuum cleaner. Does she have one of those on her vacuum? That picks up a lot before dusting.

By the way, I'm always copying and pasting recipes from this site and I've noticed that almost all of them are from you! Keep those good recipes coming! I've always liked having lots to refer to and yours are definite keepers.

Good luck with the hairballs!

kathy

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October 23, 20070 found this helpful

Oh boy....did this ever strike a nerve with me!

I used to clean houses in central Texas and charged $10/per hour which was the going rate here. I inherited a client that had 5 cats, some indoor and some indoor/outdoor. I began to absolutely dread going to her house every week. She only wanted me there 3 hours and wanted her 2200 square foot home cleaned. Now one bedroom was a craft room, so I only had to clean the floor in there. One room was so full of junk you couldn't get in there to do anything. One bedroom was a playroom for her grandchildren, so I only had to clean the floor in there. Then she had 2 living rooms, a laundry room where the 3 litter boxes were kept, kitchen, dining room, and a huge bedroom and bathroom that had to be cleaned. If this would not be enough with the five cats, ALL of the flooring except the master bedroom was laminate or tile and she did not have any throw rugs or area rugs. The problem with that is the cat hair just keeps floating along because it has nothing to catch on, so when you start sweeping or vacuuming, it starts flying everywhere. Her cats feet bled and shed all over her garden tub every week and had to be scrubbed clean because it was dried blood by the time I got there. My eyes were nearly inside out from itching and watering the whole time I was there. I was dehydrated from blowing every bit of bodily fluid out of my nose while there. Her vacuum was a Rainbow and I chose to save time and take my own which was a cheap one but as you can imagine had to be trashed when I finally gave her up.

She was a very nice lady who allowed me to clean on a week night, but the cat hair was just way out of control. Instead of suggesting area rugs or combing her cats to cut down on the flyaway hair, both of which she obviously did not want to do in the first place, I just moved on. She was the least pickiest customer I had, but also the hardest on me physically.

Your customer is probably not going to latch onto your suggestion and be offended if you try to tell her how to care for her pet. You should just be upfront with her and tell her the cat hair is too much and move on. I stayed stressed out way too long just too make someone else happy. Also, I charged by the hour because different people wanted different things done and as you know, some people are not as clean as others and you have to spend more time. I wanted to be paid for my time and so I charged by the hour. i always told the the first time would be more expensive. I ultimately quit cleaning because almost all of my customers had or got laminate floors and it's just too hard to clean.

Good luck!

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February 8, 20130 found this helpful

I buy the anti-static spray for clothes and spray it on the carpet and vacuum cleaner heads/brushes, couch where my animals lay. When you spray, remove the pets from that area and have ventilation for a few minutes until the spray dries. This makes the hair pick up easier and not latch onto fabrics for dear life.

I also love the swiffer dusters. I bought the kit with the extention handle in it, then the refills. I dust everything with it and it picks up the hairs wonderfully. You can also use a dustmop and spray it with endust or static spray. Which ever you feel you need.

I love my doggies and hair is just part of having an animal. Humans leave hair all over the place too. Especially over the bathroom sink. It's just how you look at it.

Don't let it give you a bad hair day! :)

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